Raise your hand if you’ve ever sprained your ankle. How about knowing someone else who’s sprained theirs? We perceive lots of hands in the air. That’s because every single day in the United States, thousands of people will experience an ankle sprain. It’s no wonder: the ankle is a complex joint made up of bones held in place by several ligaments. A misstep, accident, or fall on your ankle can easily overstretch or tear any one of those ligaments. And how you treat the damage can mean the difference between a fully healed ankle and an ankle with chronic instability.
Three different levels of sprain
A Level 1 sprain means you’ve stretched a ligament further than it’s designed to stretch. A Level 2 sprain means one or more tears in a ligament. A Level 3 sprain means that a ligament has fully torn – either torn in half or torn completely away from the bone. These level 3 sprains are the hardest to heal from. Depending on the extent and the location of your sprain, it may take as long as 6-10 weeks to make a full recovery.
How to treat an ankle sprain
If your ankle starts to swell and bruise after a fall or twist, you may have a sprain. You can try home treatment in the form of RICE – rest your foot, apply ice, use compression, and elevate your leg. But your best course of action, especially if RICE isn’t helping – is to seek professional treatment. It’s often difficult to know how much damage there is. Proper treatment often goes way beyond RICE and may include
- x-rays or an MRI
- a splint, cast, or brace to immobilize the ankle
- ankle exercises to restore flexibility
- physical therapy
- surgery to repair badly torn tissues.
An ankle sprain that doesn’t fully heal can come back to haunt you. The area that you damaged may remain weak and vulnerable to future injury. Take the right steps to heal properly. If you suspect an ankle sprain, get a professional evaluation. Residents of Portage, Geauga, Summit, and Cuyahoga Counties can turn to the experienced podiatrists at Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland in beautiful Solon, Ohio. Call us at (440) 903-1041 or contact us online for an appointment with Dr. Craig B. Frey or Dr. Megan L. Otlmann.